During the 1820’s Sligo Town‘s brewing and distilling industries were thriving, with no less than five different breweries and distilleries operating from within Sligo Town.
John Smith’s Brewery produced ales, beer and porter from premises on Buckley’s Ford which was situated near to Doorly Park on the Riverside.
Anderson & Co operated from a premises in Ratcliffe Street (now known as Gratten Street)
Richard Anderson Junior (a member of the extended family as the owner’s of the above brewery) operated from premises at Farmhill in the townland of Rathedmond, though the business was transferred to 14 Knox’s Street (now known as O’Connell Street) in 1839.
Martin Madden & Co operated The Sligo Distillery from a premises in Ratcliffe Street (Gratten Street).
And Cochran & Davey brewed from a premises in Bridge Street.
Today Sligo Town has no brewing or distilling industry and the only reminder we have is the building which was once the The Lough Gill Brewery, (co-ordinates 54.27175 -8.4710) which stands on Kempten Parade, just off Bridge Street. The building was occupied until a few years ago by the Rehabilitation Institute, which moved to new premises some years ago, at which time the building was bought and transformed into The Velvet Room, one of Sligo Towns top nightclubs.
The Lough Gill Brewery was the largest brewery in Sligo Town, operated as a joint venture between Vernon Davy’s, a brewer by profession of Rosehill House, Sligo. And John Cochran, eldest son of James Cochran.
The brewery consisted of a number of tall buildings built from limestone which stood on approximately one acre of land, which extended from The Mall to what was known as The Meat Shambles, now known as Kempten Parade.
After a period of 10 years however, The Lough Gill Brewery had ceased production and closed down after Vernon Davy’s was declared bankrupt.
The brewery complex was acquired some years later by Messrs Anderson and Company, who enlarged and modernised the brewery, moving their existing brewery from Ratcliffe Street (Gratten Street) into the new premises and quickly establishing themselves as “One of the most complete establishments of its kind to be found in any provincial centre”, their sales quickly outdistanced their local rivals, eventually putting the breweries of Messrs Madden and Richard Anderson out of business.
The Lough Gill Brewery was passed down from father to son, however, the successor was inexperienced in the brewing business and failed to capitalise on his inheritance, with the result that the brewery closed some years later after the Bank of Ireland had taken legal proceedings to recoup debts of £500.
Like a phoenix from the ashes, The Lough Gill Brewery opened up for business once again in 1893, this time under the ownership of Edward Foley, a local wine and spirit merchant. The new owner quickly put the brewery back into full production, providing much needed employment and by the turn of the century, The Lough Gill Brewery was the most extensive outside of Dublin and Cork, with premises covering 2 acres and production in excess of 60 barrels a day.
However, in the years before the First World War, The Lough Gill Brewery was facing growing competition from the products of Messrs Arthur Guinness in Dublin, eventually forcing The Lough Gill Brewery out of business, though Messrs Foley did continue to manufacture minerals and to retail bottled ales and beers right up until the mid 1960’s.